W Niendorff

Document Type



This study disseminates a wide range of information regarding the oral health and dental treatment needs of Native American to individuals and groups currently involved or wanting to become involved with community health matters. Data are represented in chart form providing effective visual information utilized by local, regional, and national public policies to improve oral health in all communities. Dental caries data were collected in surveys by using the widely accepted DMF index (counting the number of decayed = D, missing due to decay = M, and filled = F teeth or tooth surfaces found in the mouth of each person examined). Selected data from three recent oral health studies in the United States were used in the publication. Comparisons with findings from the 1991 Indian Health Service (IHS) Patient Survey of Oral Health were used. Sampling methods and participant ages varied in each of the studies: 1) The 1990 World Health Organization (WHO) International Collaborative Study (Native American sample only, 3 age groups 12-13, 35-44, and 65-74); 2) The 1987 NIDR Dental Caries Prevalence Survey of U.S. School Children (approx. 40,000 children 5 to 17 years of age); and 3) The 1985 NIRD Oral Health Survey of U.S. Employed and Seniors (20,818 participants). The findings indicated the rate of dental caries declined in each age group since 1984. Children experienced the greatest reduction in DMF teeth, ranging from 47 percent for those aged 5-13 to 36 percent among those aged 14-19 years. Additionally, analysis of the data suggest that adults and children have benefited from the progress made by tribal and IHS programs providing sealant on occlusal surfaces, and water fluoridation during the past decade. Oral health objectives were proposed for Native American communities including: 1) reducing dental caries for the entire population; 2) increasing use of protective sealant on occlusal surfaces of permanent molar teeth; 3) reducing the prevalence of gingivitis, destructive periodontal disease, and permanent tooth loss; and 4) educating parents and caregivers of feeding practices that prevent baby bottle tooth decay.

Publication Date



Indian Health Service, Dental Field Support and Program Development Section, Albuquerque, New Mexico.